Are econ majors anti-social?

By Lisa Wade, PhD

Yep. Economics majors are more anti-social than non-econ majors. And taking econ classes also makes people more anti-social than they were before. It turns out, there’s quite a bit of research on this, nicely summarized here.  Econ majors are less likely to share, less generous to the needy, and more likely to cheat, lie, and steal.

In one study, for example, economists Yoram Bauman and Elaina Rose noted the consistent finding that econ majors were less generous and asked whether the effect was do to selection (people who are anti-social choose to take econ classes) or indoctrination (taking econ classes makes one more anti-social). They found that both play a role.

Students at their institution — University of Washington — were asked at registration each semester if they’d like to donate to WashPIRG (a left-leaning public interest group) and ATN (a non-partisan group that lobbies to reduce tuition rates).  Bauman and Elaina crunched the data along with students’ chosen majors and classes (above). They found that econ majors were less likely to donate to either cause (the selection hypothesis) and that non-econ majors who had taken econ classes were less likely to donate than non-majors who hadn’t (the indoctrination hypothesis).

What should we make of these findings?

Sociologist Amitai Etzioni takes a stab at an answer. He argues that neoclassical economics isn’t a problem in itself. Instead, the problem may be that there are no “balancing” classes, ones that present a different kind of economics. In other part of the academy, he argues — specifying social philosophy, political science, and sociology — there is “a great varietyof approaches are advanced, thereby leaving students with a consolidated debasing exposureand a cacophony of conflicting pro-social views.”

Being exposed to a variety of views, including ones that question the premises of neoclassical economics, may be one way to make economists more honest and kind. And doing so isn’t just about sticking one to econ, it’s an issue of grave seriousness, as the criminal and immoral behavior of our financial leaders is exactly what triggered a Great Recession once… and could again.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


With the opening of Japan, the West kind of went crazy for all things Japanese. Nothing more so than origami cranes. The first batch were imported in 1881 by Cornelius van Reiger, who brought a small shipment to Portsmouth. As luck would have it, Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, was in the town that day, and caught sight of them. Instantly taken with it, he purchased one for a pence. Seeing this, everyone in sight immediately started buying up the rest, and by the time the shipment of 1,000 cranes had all been sold, bidders were paying 20 pounds per origami figure.(Prince of Wales sets Portsmouth Aflutter, The Economist, Mar. 17, 1881)

Needless to say, prices exploded, and the Japanese were happy to exploit this. Almost literally, every house in Japan had turned overnight into a mini-factory for crane making, and they were being sold for astronomical prices. Authentic, Japanese made origami cranes were being sold as not simply as decorations, but as investments(Flying Ever Higher! The Market for Japanese Cranes, a Solid Investment, The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 30, 1892), not unlike the tulip market once had been in the Netherlands. The craze spread across Europe, and soon every king was competing to own the biggest, most magnificent crane out there. None were more magnificent that that owned by Wilhelm I, 15 feet high, of amazing, hand made and hand decorated paper. It was never revealed publicly, but rumor is that he paid the modern equivalent of 12 million Euros for it!(Willy: An Intimate Biography, by Mark Bisoto, 2001) Pretty soon, Japan was rolling in the money.(Russian Military Intelligence Reports, Vol. 23 (1890-1892), Ed. F.E. Dzerzhinsky, 2001)

Of course, it could only last so long, and in 1892 the bottom of the market fell out, and origami millionaires turned into paper paupers overnight.(Flightless Cranes Leave London Stock Market With Empty Nests, London Financial Guide, Sept. 12, 1892) But while Japan was sad to see the craze end, they had nevertheless laughed their way to the bank. No one knows exactly how much money went into their coffers, but outside observers estimate that the influx of wealth financed a large part of their rush to arms in the late part of the 19th century, and undoubtedly made the difference in 1905, allowing them to triumph over Russia.(Flying Above the Rest: Japanese Military Funding of the 19th Century, by N.I. Nebogatov, Journal of East Asian Military Studies, March, 1957)

anonymous asked:

I don't follow you but I do enjoy your blog(The mayo tags are a bit much for me-....-). Why do I have this feeling mofo's hating on Tidal only because Jay Z and Beyonce's names are involved? I agreed with your other posts and am laughing my ass off at faux deep black tumblr

Tbh like everyone is an economist now when it comes to the Carters. Suddenly now they’re capitalist pigs. Like there was no backlash when Jay signed the deal creating Roc Nation. Idk what bothers me about this is people getting fake deep about it and their selective memory.

In the post linked above, submitted by freebrocolli, sociologist Lisa Wade PhD asks the question “Are economics majors anti-social?”. She cites a study that found that economics majors were less likely to donate to WashPIRG (a left-leaning public interest group) and ATN (a non-partisan group that lobbies to reduce tuition rates). This study found the results were partly explained by self-selection, partly by the effect that studying economics has on students opinions (what she refers to as “indoctrination”).

Here we can see the rigours of sociology in full force. Studying economics makes you less likely to donate to leftist activist groups and to special interest rent-seekers. And this is reported as direct evidence that econ majors are anti-social.

EDIT: well on closer inspection the paper Wade cited was authored by economists not sociologists. But the fact that she took the results seriously even after looking at their atrocious methodology is still pretty funny.

Record Highs                                    

Shipping containers stand at the Uiwang Inland Container Depot in Uiwang, South Korea.

South Korea’s won rose for the first time in three days as the government reported a record trade surplus. Exports exceeded imports by $8.4 billion in March, beating the $8.1 billion median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Check out more aerial photographs of the Uiwang depot by SeongJoon Cho.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP

Some Economists Really Want Vermont to Enact Single-Payer Public Healthcare

"As economists, we understand that universal, publicly financed health care is not only economically feasible but highly preferable to a fragmented market-based insurance system," the letter reads. "Health care is not a service that follows standard market rules; it should be provided as a public good. Evidence from around the world demonstrates that publicly financed health care systems result in improved health outcomes, lower costs and greater equity."


MediAvengers round up: The Economist reacts to superheroes, and asks the serious questions like what the f*** is going on?

MediAvengers is an MCU media blog.  Magazine spreads and newspaper articles made by fans, for the fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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All non-Marvel headlines are from the original real-world issue of the publication. 


basically, what confessions of an economic hitman is about. i read this book years ago, and i find it hard to argue that this not close to what is happening in the world. this clip is made by the renegade economist, who are also behind the four horsemen feature film.


I’m sure that it’s true that adding 10% more workers to London and letting them live like factory hens would make London’s corporations more profitable. Londoners may even acquire more tablet computers and smart phones. Yet our lives would be worse! Already the definition of a kitchen in a flat in Hackney is a line of cupboards down the side of the living room. Just how many times can they divide up these beautiful old houses into smaller and smaller boxes?

The mistake that these economists make is to become totally business centric. Their analysis stops at the profits of business and they fail to follow the process through to ensure that it benefits the population as a whole.

It is notable that the venerable economists who wrote the letter to Mr. Osbourne uttered not a squeak about the corporate profits which are being  filched away overseas to avoid paying tax as was reported in the same edition of the FT. Surely that too is “deeply damaging to the competitiveness of our science and research sectors and the wider economy”.

 On Tuesday, January 14, the Economic Policy Institute released an open letter to President Barack Obama and the leaders of Congress, urging the federal government to raise the minimum wage. The letter was signed by 75 leading economists – including seven Nobel laureates – and backed a plan sponsored by two democratic Congressmen. 

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